We are fast approaching the start of spring training, and almost all of the big-name free agents are spoken for. That said, it’s still the offseason, and that means rumors can be found. We have found them and rounded them up for Thursday. Here they are, those rumors that we spoke of just now…
Kershaw unsure on future with Dodgers
Dodgers lefty, franchise legend, and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw is eligible for free agency next offseason, which means that 2021 will be a walk year for him. He turns 34 next month, and he’s endured some level of decline since his peak. That said, Kershaw’s deep repertoire and exceptional command have allowed him to cope quite well with velocity loss, and he figures to remain a high-quality starting pitcher for at least the near- to mid-term. So surely the Dodgers lifer will finish out his career in L.A., right? To hear Kershaw himself tell it, maybe not. Here’s this excerpt from a longer piece on Kershaw by Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times:
This will be the first time Kershaw enters a season with free agency looming. He said he hasn’t discussed a contract extension with the Dodgers. Does he want one?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Honestly, I wish I had an answer.”
Kershaw is entering the final year of his three-year, $93 million pact, which he signed after using an opt-out in his previous contract. As Castillo notes, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirms that the two sides have yet to talk about a new contract, but Friedman also noted the obvious reality that Kershaw in an ideal world would finish his career as a Dodger. Speaking of which, retirement is a possibility for Kershaw, given that he and his wife Ellen have three school-age children, and so is signing with a team closer to his Dallas home. Whatever the ultimate outcome, uncertainty right now reigns when it comes to Kershaw’s future with the Dodgers.
Cubs agree to terms with Jake Marisnick
The Cubs have agreed to terms with veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Marisnick, who turns 30 in late March, is coming off a 2020 season with the Mets in which he batted .333/.353/.606, albeit in just 16 games. For his career, Marisnick owns an OPS+ of 81 across parts of eight MLB seasons, six of which came with the Astros. He can play all three outfield positions and has some speed on the bases. In Chicago, Marisnick’s right-handed bat could pair well with Joc Pederson in left, and he could occasionally spell Jason Heyward against tough lefties and back up Ian Happ in center.
Red Sox, JBJ reunion likelier after trade
The incumbent Red Sox appear to be the favorites to land free agent fly-catcher Jackie Bradley Jr.:
Two rival executives believe the Red Sox are likely to sign Jackie Bradley Jr. now that they have traded Andrew Benintendi. “It makes too much sense not to happen now,” one said.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 11, 2021
Granted “rival executives” are not privy to Boston’s thinking, but, yes, this tracks. The trade of Andrew Benintendi to the Royals leaves a hole in the outfield, and Bradley would capably fill it. Bradley, who remains a defensive asset in center, is coming off a 2020 season in which he put up an OPS+ of 118 in 55 games. For his career, he owns an OPS+ of 94 across parts of eight big-league seasons. Bradley turns 31 in April and has spent his entire professional career with the Red Sox. Needless to say, his return would please a Red Sox fan base that’s been disaffected by recent cost-cutting moves by the franchise.
Blue Jays sign reliever David Phelps
According to multiple reports, Toronto has added a veteran right-handed reliever David Phelps on a one-year contract that will pay him $1.75 million for the 2021 season. Phelps, 34, struggled overall last season, but it was across a sample of just 20 2/3 innings. For his career, he’s pitched to a 102 ERA+ with a K/BB ratio of 2.47 in parts of eight major-league seasons. He’s worked exclusively as a reliever since 2017.
Pirates sign Tony Wolters to minor-league deal
The Pirates have signed veteran catcher Tony Wolters to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training, the team announced. Wolters, 28, has a career slash line of .238/.323/.319 over five big-league seasons, and that’s despite playing all his home games in Coors Field. With the Pirates, he’ll likely be battling Michael Perez for the right to serve as Jacob Stallings’ backup this season.